This traffic pattern was never something I had considered before. I grew up with it. We learn how to take advantage of the situation practically as soon as you learn to drive. Then, I had some friends visit from Australia who just had to know how this amazing display of courtesy actually worked. I also heard, recently, that this may be a purely Canadian phenomenon, not North American as I assumed. Maybe someone can chime in.

All streets have their own stop signs.

Well, I guess it is courteous, and is a bit of an honour system for drivers. For starters, roundabouts are very rare here; enough so that many of us are completely confused upon seeing one. Secondly, if an intersection is not large enough to have lights controlling it, there will be a stop sign controlling at least one direction of traffic. I have witnessed a couple of residential intersections with no control and experienced a moment of panic upon realizing this while half way through. We are very used to our structured traffic.

We also have the four-way stop. (Please note, three-way stops, all-way stops, and the dreaded five-way stop are all the same, just with a different number of roads connecting or different wording.) Procedure is as follows. Come to a complete stop as you would at any intersection. The car which came to a stop FIRST, is the car that is next to go. I guess it is a very polite and courteous rule. Often, this will result in the roads having alternating turns. Sometimes, the whole thing feels much to complicated when left-turners need their own turn. It always sorts itself out, though, and remains slow-paced and safe in the meantime.

Bonus rule: if two cars arrive at the intersection at the same time, the driver on the right has the right of way.  A friendly wave can let the other driver know that you are aware it’s their turn.

Bonus Question: An ambulance, a firetruck, a police car, and a mail truck all arrive at the intersection at the exact same time. Who gets to go first? Why?

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About the author

Kelly is a BC girl through and through, but never lasts at home very long before her feet start itching. She has travelled repeatedly to Australia, Europe, and Mexico (and the US, but that doesn't really count). The goal is every continent, but in every place she goes, there is only more to see. She currently fills the days working too many hours with children, writing, and learning Spanish. Though, friends will always find her in a kitchen filled with new recipes from the countries she has visited.